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Rain doesn't dampen daughter's first camping experience

August 16, 2012|Amy Dulebohn

In the summer of 2011, while some of my acquaintances were on a weekend camping trip, I planned to take my daughter for a night. The idea seemed like a good initiation to “roughing it,” for a not-quite-18-month-old.

It very well might have been, But Mother Nature had other plans. The July weekend kicked off with extremely hot and dry conditions. The extreme weather caused my camping companions to return home shortly after midnight the next morning, before my daughter and I had a chance to join them.

I spent most of the next year anticipating the summer 2012 camping trip. Surely this year conditions would be idyllic. The kids would swim, frolic with nature and play all weekend.

Summer’s arrival was marked by last summer’s return of mostly hot, dry weather. In the weeks leading up to the trip, one traveling companion started some online researching of the weather forecast for that weekend.

“It’s going to rain the whole time we are camping,” he lamented for weeks.

Feeling justifiably optimistic, I replied, “It hasn’t rained all summer. It will be fine.”

That optimism continued to carry me along, right until the day we left, when rain and thunderstorms were forecast for the duration of the trip.

When I picked my daughter up from the baby-sitter that evening, she was excited as could be that it was time for the camping trip she had heard so much about. The baby-sitter and her family shared her excitement, so much that we barely noticed the dark, dark clouds brewing in the direction of the campground.

About 10 minutes after leaving the sitter’s, it started to rain. The sky turned dark, much too dark for 6 p.m. on a mid-summer evening. Then it started to pour.

My fellow campers were already at the campground and had set up for the night when we arrived, bringing steady rain with us. I found four adults and four children, ranging in age from 8 months to 8 years, huddled into one tent, discussing the weather, and, perhaps more importantly, dinner options.

Being resourceful, the designated chefs attempted to light a propane grill. It didn’t work because of a mechanical difficulty. And a campfire was completely out of the question. After much debate, I was chosen to drive to the nearest convenience store and pick up subs for everyone. Not what any of us had in mind, but it was fine. Things could only get better after this, right?

The next morning we awoke to find the rain had stopped, but more was forecast throughout the day. The adults were bummed, to say the least, as were the older children, who had memories of warmer, dryer camping trips when they could swim all day.

Blissfully oblivious, though, my daughter couldn’t have cared less. She happily ran through the stream, practiced riding her bike and played ball with the other kids. She exuded the motto, “A little rain never hurt anyone,” and I wished we all could have shared her sentiments.

The following day was more of the same, on-and-off rain, almost-chilly temps and a closed swimming pool. Again, my daughter didn’t care.

When people ask me how she enjoyed her first camping trip, I tell them she had a better time than anyone, and I really believe that. Of course, like anyone, she had moments of being tired, frustrated and grouchy, but overall, she loved it.

I am so proud of her adaptability. I fancy myself as being easygoing, but not to the extent my 2-year-old demonstrated on a soggy weekend of camping. I can hardly wait to see what will happen next time.

First-time mother Amy Dulebohn is a page designer and feature writer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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